Florida Child Support Garnishment Limits, Exemptions and Protections
Florida wage garnishment law follows the Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA) for determining the earnings that are subject to child support garnishment exemptions. The noncustodial parent is protected by these garnishment exemptions, no matter what type or how many withholding orders they are subject to. The following information is meant to provide you with a basic understanding of wage garnishment limits in Florida, as well as the allocation of different types of withholding orders.
Garnishment Limits and Exemptions
Florida follows the CCPA when determining the "disposable earnings" that are subject to garnishment limits, as well as the garnishment limits themselves. To calculate the "disposable earnings," subtract all deductions required by law from the noncustodial parent's earnings. The CCPA defines earnings as any income that is paid or payable for personal services. After the deductions are made, you are left with "disposable earnings," which are subject to the following maximum garnishment limits:
- 50% if the noncustodial parent supports another family;
- 55% if the noncustodial parent supports another family and is more than twelve weeks behind on support payments;
- 60% if the noncustodial parent does not support another family; and
- 65% if the noncustodial parent does not support another family and is not more than twelve weeks behind on support payments.
Allocation and Priority
When an employee is subject to two or more orders for support, and the payments due on the support orders are more than the allowable disposable earnings, the support payment should be allocated based on the payment's percentage of the allowable disposable earnings. Current support should be paid first, and if there are any allowable disposable earnings left, the employer should deduct for medical support premiums, arrears, and other medical coverage. If the employee does not have enough disposable earnings to pay all of these, the employer should deduct for current support first, followed by arrears and medical support, in that order.
Sometimes an employer will receive a support order as well as another type of withholding order. If this other withholding order is a state-issued order, or is for bankruptcy repayments dated on or after October 17, 2005, the employer should prioritize the support payments first. However, if the other withholding order is an IRS levy, the levy takes priority. If there are not enough allowable disposable earnings to make both payments, the employer should contact the IRS agent listed on the levy to see if they will accommodate the support order. The IRS will often agree to do this, and if so, the employer should get the agreement in writing. The employer should also notify the court or issuing agency about the existence of the IRS levy.
Protection from Discrimination
An employer who discriminates against an employee or a prospective employee on the basis of a support order may be subject to a civil penalty of $250 for the first offense, and a maximum of $500 for every offense thereafter. The employee may also bring a civil action against the employer for reinstatement, wages, and benefits lost, plus costs and reasonable attorneys' fees.